Titanic: The Musical
Chris Abbott | 24 Nov 2023 11:34am
Photo: Elizabeth Grace
Titanic could be described as the musical that keeps coming back; first seen in an enormous production in the US in 1997, it was many years before it was seen in the UK, where it has been produced as a chamber piece and with larger casts. Sedos, never a company to shirk a challenge, have gone for the large cast, large orchestra option, although in their usual comfortable but challenging home venue, the Bridewell. The result is a triumph.
Somehow, Directors Louise Roberts and Rob Archibald have managed to move their 33 strong cast around this small space with great stagecraft and not a little ingenuity, making good use of an entrance created from an opening in the seating block. I have not been backstage at the Bridewell but I cannot believe there is much room there for such a cast, let alone an 18 piece orchestra, which are also tucked away somewhere. Choreographer Philip Michael Thomas sensitively adds movement that enhances rather than intrude, and is both evocative and novel.
This would all be remarkable if they were playing a single part each, but most of the ensemble change costumes and reappear as 1st, 2nd or 3rd class passengers or the crew as required. Meanwhile, the story proceeds through music which is by turns lyrical and thrilling, especially in some of the superb massed choral pieces. There are no weak performances here, and although I expected to single out some actors for their particular achievements I have found it impossible to do so. To name anyone in this cast would seem totally unfair to those not mentioned.
The Directors’ considerable experience shows not only in the deft ways in which they move their cast but in their decision to use projection and to portray the ship design in physical form, especially in the impressive Act 1 ending. The use of blueprints on stage floor, projections on gauze and in physical form is not only eye-catching but also enhances the storytelling, thanks to Designer Andrew Laidlaw. Callum Anderson’s costumes complement the set design well and sketch in the differences between the classes as needed; an important facet of this piece which focuses in particular on those divides.
The thrilling first act builds to the appropriate climax, and is followed by the poignancy of the aftermath of the sinking, as well as recognition of those who were lost. Musicality throughout is exemplary, and it is good to hear a full orchestral sound from the band under MD, Ryan Macaulay, and a joy to hear every word that is sung. Kudos there to Adam Coppard’s Sound Design as well as the skills of the cast and musicians.
It is a privilege to hear this score sung and played so well, and to see the piece produced so impressively in a small space. Highly recommended.
- : admin
- : 23/11/2023